Guo Pu comp; Jiang Yinghao illus: SANKAI GYO (SHANHAI JING). (The Classic of Mountains and Seas). Osaka, n.d. (1902?). Various paginations of folded leaves. 18 juan in 7 volumes. A total of 74 b/w double page b/w woodblock illustrations. 7 vols. 26x17 cm. Stitched.
Meiji period 1902 (?) Japanese edition of the famous Chinese illustrated work, the Shanhai Jing - Classic of Mountains and Seas. The work was compiled by Guo Pu in the Eastern Jin period in the 4th century AD and describes geographical features of China and the mythological creatures which inhabit them. It has had an enduring influence.
For full details on, and a translation of, the 'Shanhai Jing', see Strassberg: 'A Chinese Bestiary'.
The earliest Japanese edition of the famous and early Chinese work 'Shanhai Jing', published in the 1660s, was copied from a fine late Ming dynasty (Chongzhen period 1628-1644) illustrated edition that is closely based on one of the first two Chinese illustrated editions of the 'Shanhai Jing' done c.1600 during the Wanli reign and which are the oldest extant illustrated editions of this work.
The 1660s Japanese edition very closely emulates the Wanli edition illustrated by Jiang Yinghao and has the preface written by the exiled scholar-official, Yang Shan (1488-1559), towards the end of his life. This edition is regarded as the more important of the two Wanli illustrated editions, not least because of Yang's renown as an expert on the 'Shanhai Jing' and Jiang's fine woodcut illustrations.
The 1660s Japanese edition relates exactly in text format (9 columns per page each with 20 characters) to the entry in 'Zhongguo Guji Shanben Zongmu' Zibu Section: p.1042 entry 42 for an undated Ming edition of Shanhai Jing stated as having illustrations by Jiang Yinghao. The last page of juan 18 of the 1660s Japanese version states that Jiang Yinghao was the illustrator, based in Wulin (an area of Hangzhou known for printing during the Ming). This is presumably the Chongzhen edition.
Whilst the text conforms closely in format and style to the Ming edition, Japanese reading marks have been added. The illustrations are pure Ming in essence.
From reading Strassberg (p.75) the definitive clues to the 1660s Japanese edition being derived from the Chongzhen edition are: (1) That there are 74 illustrations as opposed to the 76 in the Wanli edition done by Jiang Yinghao. (2) The illustrations were engraved by Liu Suming. The first illustration at top right has the characters 'Suming kan' (published by Su Ming). Liu Suming was a member of a leading family of publishers based in Jianyang, Fujian province, and known to be active as an engraver at the end of the Ming dynasty. He closely copied the Wanli edition illustrations done by Jiang Yinghao. (3). Li Wenxiao engraved the text. The last page of juan 18 also states that Li Wenxiao (using his alternate name: Li Xiyu) was the engraver, Li again being known to be active at the end of the Ming. All the above are present in the 1660s Japanese edition.
This is the first time we have seen this Meiji edition apparently published in 1902 in Osaka by Maekawa Zenbe from blocks held in the Buneido studio. What is striking is how closely it resembles (in both quality and detail of reproduction) the 1660s first Japanese edition. This 1902 edition conforms in all ways to the first Japanese edition as detailed above. A remarkably fine production.
There is vague mention of an early 19th century (Bunka period?) reprint done in five volumes with cruder illustrations. The book was not then reprinted until this fine Buneido edition.
Text in Chinese with Japanese reading marks. A total of 74 double page black-and-white woodblock illustrations. In seven volumes. Original blue covers with wear. Original title slips. There is some dampstaining to parts of volumes 1 and 7 but otherwise the work is in remarkably good clean condition and the printed impression of text and images is clear and strong.
Strassberg: A Chinese Bestiary p.75 etc. 'Treasures of the Yenching' pp. 182-7.
Subjects: Illustrated Books Rare Books
Item 380 in List 204.
Record produced by Hanshan Tang Books, www.hanshan.com.